Life is Good Again: Robert Scanlan’s Story

By Robert Scanlan

I was Headshotliving the American Dream with good health, a loving family, a beautiful home and a thriving business. In fact, we were scheduled to move the business to larger quarters the last weekend in March, 1998.

Early Monday morning as I dressed, my wife teased, “Honey… better exercise more. Your tummy’s getting round.”

Two days later at the doctor’s office I had no medical history to share—nothing worse than the common cold. Days later in the hospital, doctors told me, “Your liver is in total failure. We don’t know why. There is no cure. No way to fix it. The only solution is a liver transplant. We’ll do our best to keep you alive day-to-day while we try to get you on the waiting list.”

I was one of the lucky ones. Thanks to the miraculous skills of my transplant medical team, the loving act of organ donation by an unknown family and the generous contribution of blood donors who provided more than 40 blood transfusions for this procedure, I received a new liver two weeks later.

Six months after transplant, I returned home to find we had lost our home, our business, all our assets and my career. I have an MBA and decades of business and finance experience, yet could no longer do arithmetic.

Two years later, I had rebuilt a fully active life with my family, friends and a new career.

Life was productive and fulfilling again… until ten years later when my new liver failed. Scar tissue build-up and liver rejection placed me back in the hospital ICU and on the transplant waiting list. I would also need a new kidney for survival since the medications keeping me alive for the past ten years had the side-effect of attacking my kidneys.

Once again, through the brilliance of talented surgeons, the lifesaving gifts of yet another unknown organ donor family and the donations of another 50 unknown friends who gave blood, I received both a new liver and a kidney. Again, I found myself physically and financially devastated. At 6’2” tall, I weighed 104 pounds. My finances were in about the same condition.

I had another life rebuilding job to tackle and returned to school. I became a professional transitions coach for life and business, a writer, author, and speaker. I dedicated a major portion of my time pro-bono to assist transplant patients and their families in crisis, and to raise awareness of the need for organ donor registration. And without so many anonymous donors in my life, I would have missed another inspiring family adventure!

My granddaughter, Ally, just returned from three weeks in Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands. Her journey was not a vacation—all business. With a lifelong commitment as a musician, singer and song writer, this trip marked a turning point in her life. The venture was her first tour with a rock band as lead singer, also playing the keyboard and guitar. The toughest part for her was handling media interviews in three languages.

The organizers molded the itinerary around her return to a more stable paying job as assistant teacher of Advanced Spanish for senior students at a major college-prep. She also needed to return to her own classwork. Ally is in the eighth grade.

Life is good again.

Robert Scanlan is a public speaker and author. His forthcoming book, Tigers Under My Bed is due out soon and focuses on his amazing journey through three organ transplants and the life-issues that brings. Find out more about Tigers Under My Bed and Robert at